Hair, Makeup, and Nail Brands that Offer Virtual Try-On

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

The last time you dabbed a free spooley into a tube of tester mascara may have been the last time. While staying at home, beauty lovers were cut off from our beloved in-store testers. But even before the storefronts shuttered, augmented reality (AR) technology was on the rise in beauty. AR allows for virtual try- on, in which a customer can swipe on a new lipstick shade, hair color, or brow shape via desktop browser or mobile app. In 2019, L'Oréal acquired ModiFace, the leading beauty tech provider of virtual testing. Since then, brands like L'Oréal Paris and Garnier have embraced these futuristic makeovers, along with other big name beauty companies like Chanel, Redken, and Avon.

According to Vivianna Blanch, vice president of integrated consumer communications at L'Oréal Paris, traffic to virtual try-on sites increased while large portion of the U.S. were under stay-at-home orders. "Since physical testers are typically not available at our points of sale (and where they are available, most people may not want to use them), our tool enables a user to ensure they have the perfect shade before making a purchase," Blanch previously told ishonest.

Sure, there's a perfectly good health reason to opt for contactless makeovers. But even without germs to consider, virtual testers are worth your time. Thanks to the magic of technology and quick swiping fingers, you can test out dozens of shadow shades in a few moments, take selfies in makeup that's outside of your usual budget (hello, Chanel Beauty), and satisfy the urge to dye your hair pink without touching a strand.

Ahead, find the best virtual try-ons the internet has to offer.

Garnier Virtual Shade Selector

Thanks to L'Oréal's aforementioned acquisition, many brands across the company have virtual try-on capability. A short quiz gathers data on your existing hair color, then the Garnier Shade Selector matches you with a range of shades. Me and my medium blonde highlighted hair matched with 15 shades from brunette to blue, then I chose to upload a photo (you can also use your live camera) to see them in action.

(Try It)

Redken Try It On

Salon-favorite hair dye Redken offers a choice of 70-plus hair shades. The colors range from dreamy shades like aquamarine and lavender to everyday options in blonde, brown, red, and even gray. Again, you can choose from live try on via camera or upload an existing selfie.

(Try It)

Schwarzkopf Live Try On Tool

Schwarzkopf's AR tool similarly allows users to test out dozens of shades — with some fun additional features. The on-site tool has split-screen capability, so you can compare your current shade with the new look in a single frame. Plus (and even more important, let's be honest), it allows you to download and share your altered selfies.

(Try It)

L'Oréal Paris Hair and Makeup

Another ModiFace baby, L'Oréal Paris's try-on tech allows for a total makeover with both makeup and hair color styles available to test. Try any makeup product in the categories of blush, eyeliner, eye shadow, lip liner, and lipstick, which means an exponential amount of full-face combos that I won't even try to calculate now. Your new look will link back to each product, so you can go straight from the virtual testing chair to the checkout counter.

(Try It)

Benefit Cosmetics Brow Try-On

Thanks to Benefit's brow tech, I'll never underestimate the power of brow shape again. This desktop AR app offers 15 (!) brow shapes, 12 shades, and a sliding scale to determine thickness and arch size. For overpluckers or anyone who just wants to pretend they've had a brow appointment in the past three months, this tool is a godsend.

(Try It)

Chanel Try On

Even Chanel is getting into the AR game. For now, the testing pool includes Chanel lip products only, which is still enough to keep a bored person busy for an afternoon. Heads up that the try-on feature is only available on Great Britain's version of the site, which worked just fine from my American living room.

(Try It)

Avon Virtual Makeover

Your local "Avon lady" is being replaced (or at least assisted) by AR lipstick, eye, and face testers. "Since shoppers can no longer physically go to retail stores or, in our case, make purchases in-person with Avon representatives, AR is an amazing shopping tool right now during COVID-19," Mary Cooney, vice president of digital at Avon, previously told ishonest. "Our representatives can consult and sell with their customers digitally in a new interactive way, all while safely social distancing — it's a huge selling tool for our representatives and something our customers have been asking for."

(Try It)

Maybelline New York Virtual Try On

Maybelline has the most built-out AR offerings we've seen so far. The brand has five different tools that allow for virtual makeup testing, foundation shade matching, the kinky sounding "brow play," and more.

(Try It)

MAC Virtual Try On

Search any product on the MAC website, and the "try it on" widget underneath lets you AR it right onto your own face. (Yes, that means you can virtually test the Selena beauty collection.) If you're not in the mood to see yourself onscreen, the shade finders show lip and eye products on a range of skin tones.

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Nyx Professional Makeup Try It On

In addition to lip, eye, and face products, Nyx's try-on tech allows you to try on a full face of an already-constructed makeup look. There are multiple pro artistry options for tons of categories, including "day slay," "wonderland after dark," and "work from home." Find your next slate of Halloween (or stay-at-home) products.

(Try It)

OPI Nail Studio

OPI is holding it down on the nail front. In lieu of an actual image of your nails, this tool creates an image of the nails of your dreams (see mine, above). Choose a nail length from extra short to extra long, a skin tone from a sliding scale, and a polish color, and the tool creates an uncanny valley mock-up of what your nails could look like. Once your bot hand is in the system, users can quickly toggle between different shades to test various colors and finishes.

(Try It)

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